Need some motivation for Couch to 5K + podcasts - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Need some motivation for Couch to 5K + podcasts


I started the post C5K runs (stepping stones and speed) and they are just too difficult. I normally have difficulty getting myself motivated but after those runs (which I've tried a couple of times each) - it's EVEN HARDER to get out there. I missed my run this morning and I'm not sure I'll be able to get myself out there.

How do I get out of this rut? Do I just go back to the week 9 podcast or do I keep with these C5K+ and just go easy?

I have felt like a real runner doing the C5K+ but my the middle I'm winded and ready for a walk break. I don't want to have come so far on this journey only to be discouraged now...


19 Replies

Have you tried simply running at your own pace without the podcast ? Or are you using the podcasts to achieve something specific?

sofaspud in reply to ArthurJG

No specific goal in mind - just using the podcasts for some structure and to start running a bit faster. I've tried listening to other podcasts (no music, just talking) but the lack of beat makes it harder to run. I may have to go back to my own pace, as you suggest. It was just discouraging that even at the end of week 9, I was only doing about 3.5km. I really wanted to hit the 5k mark in 30 minutes.

ArthurJGGraduate in reply to sofaspud

Well if you don’t use the podcast you can listen to your own choice of music instead? But I think your motivation is maybe affected by the fact that you didn’t do 5k in 30 minutes. Here’s the problem: you’re trying to aim for two targets at once, increasing your distance AND your speed. Go for distance first: when you can run 5k then go for speed but don’t try to build endurance AND speed at the same time. To get to 5k, just add three to five minutes to one of your runs each week - the other two should stay at 30 minutes. So two 30 minute runs and a longer one of 33, 36, 39, 42, 45 or 35, 40, 45. At your present pace 5k will take 43 minutes but your pace may even improve slightly as you built endurance. In any case that will get you to 5k in five weeks at most, maybe less. And what’s more you’ll have the benefit of all those extra runs in your legs. Then will be the time to think about speed if that’s what you want to do.

Also, try parkrun. Never mind that you can’t run all the way. Maybe even make it your long run. It will give you a PB for 5k, albeit a slow one as you’ve walked part of it, and you’ll be able to watch that PB improve (slightly) each week as you run more and walk less. Then when you finally run all the way, you will have a PB to work on a little at a time instead of trying to get to 30 minutes in one go. FWIW I set a new PB of 31’25” at my fast, flat parkrun yesterday - so I’m still not at 30 minutes three and a half months after graduating but I can run well over 5k now and boy, that PB felt good.

steviej99Graduate in reply to ArthurJG

Great advice Arthur!!

sofaspud in reply to ArthurJG

Thank you so much for this advice, Arthur - I agree with Stevie that it's really great advice. You're right - my 5k took me 42 or 43 minutes. I'll keep on with the 30 minute runs, increasing slightly and not worrying too much about my speed for the moment.

Thank you again - it is much appreciated!

ArthurJGGraduate in reply to sofaspud

Wait, you've done at least one 5k already? Well done you! That gives you more options. Don't feel tied to the podcasts just because they carry the NHS C25k brand. There are lots of different approaches you can use. Increasing the duration of one run per week seems to be a feature of most of them though :) When you do decide to do some speed work, be aware that the weekly run is NOT the place for that. That should ALWAYS be a slow run, no matter how good you get in future, though your definition of what counts as slow may change over time. I'll tell you one thing I'm really enjoying right now is something I got from an Edinburgh Marathon Festival 5k training plan.

Warmup walk

10 min slow jog

(30 seconds FAST run followed by 2 minute WALK) 6 times

10 minute slow jog

Warmdown walk

It will come to less than 5k because of the walking but don't let that bother you. Don't focus on overall time or distance for this, because that's not what it's for: it's a training activity not a race. Just enjoy the experience of the different speeds for the specified times. 'Fast' means as fast as is safe considering all the circumstances, including ground conditions - if there are rabbit holes for instance you have to be able to watch where you put your feet so that'll be slower than on tarmac but as fast as makes sense.

Great fun. You only do it once a week so it adds variety. You're supposed to increase the intervals in a certain way but I haven't, because the race isn't till May and it's only an eight week plan so I'll start it properly next year. I've just repeated the first one above once a week on a flat route and I've really enjoy it. It's fun to go flat out and not worry because it's only for thirty seconds. But on my other runs each week I go slowish for 5k and very slow if I'm trying to extend the distance.

Apparently different speeds develop different muscles. They say 80% of your training sessions should be at a slow pace but something like the above added in once a week at most, or even once a fortnight, is good.


I also felt unmotivated after the thrill of week 9 but continued to go out three times a week. Then I was finding it harder until I decided to give myself a break! Sarah (insert coach of choice here) was no longer telling me to keep running so, do you know what? - I allowed myself to walk a bit if I felt like it. I know - how dare I!! Anyway it meant that a run was no longer something to struggle to the end of. I seemed to settle to a routine of about half an hour each ‘run’ and I enjoyed it. I was still out there just without the pressure to perform. In the last week I’ve gone back to structure with Laura on the couch 5+ podcasts which I’m quite enjoying but just do what feels right for you. Did you have a favourite week? You could just repeat that. You’ve achieved so much and don’t forget it.

sofaspud in reply to Sybilw

Hello! I hear you about not having the motivation coming from the coach. I will take it a bit easier and then try the C5K+ again at another time.

SybilwGraduate in reply to sofaspud

That sounds like a lot of pressure on yourself trying to get to 5k in 30 min. The programme should really be called ‘Couch to 30 min’ because 5k in 30 min is quite a challenge. I’ve only managed 34 min but that’s fantastic (for me). Remember it’s better to enjoy a 30 min outing than sicken yourself completely. Take your eye off the clock/distance until you start to enjoy it again.

sofaspud in reply to Sybilw

Yes, indeed - couch to 30 minutes is much more attainable. It was such a huge leap from week 9 to the C25K+ podcasts. I'll just go back to my own pace and work it up slowly. This colder weather has been a deterrent too...but I've come too far to stop now!

SybilwGraduate in reply to sofaspud

Glad to hear your still committed! Hope the joy returns.


You don't have to do the C25K+ podcasts. I never did, because my intolerance of the music was just too great.

Do your own thing, but as I suggest in the guide to post C25K running having some targets is hugely beneficial.

5k in 30 minutes may be a target, but if it is realistically some way off, find some interim goals that you can hit, perhaps once a week. This keeps the feeling of progression alive and well until running becomes so ingrained that it is part of your life.

We are all different and I loved the freedom of making up my own programme of runs, but until you know precisely where you want to go it is difficult to give further advice.

Keep running, keep smiling.

Your replies have always been so helpful, Iannoda. Thank you. I've referred to your guide several times...and it's always useful. I'll keep running - will have to work on the smiling part!

I would stop worrying about achieving goals whilst you consolidate your 30min run. That's what I'm currently doing. I did do a parkrun yesterday. I did the 5k in 35min. I may do it again next week but in between I'm just doing the week 9 run. I know I can do 30min and the original aim of c25k for me was to get fitter. Once I can do 30min really comfortably, I might increase the distance or the speed, and try the podcasts. So maybe leave it a bit longer? (PS - sorry this is a bit rambly! The extra hour has thrown my mind today!)

Yes to being comfortable with the 30 minute runs. I wasn't quite there - I'd still be puffed out at the end. I am going to take a small step back and try again. Enjoy the extra hour!


Why don't you just keep doing some 30 minute sessions for a while.

If stepping stones is just putting you off, stop doing it.

I am now setting my Samsung health app to 30 minutes once I have done my warm up walk.

I can see from this that I am getting a bit further each time. It's still some structure, with some progress without killing myself, and will give me the push I need to increase my time/distance .

sofaspud in reply to Jell6

Hi Jell6 - are you tracking your distance on your Samsung? I was running 30 minutes with the week 9 podcast and tracking my distance - it was always way below 4k. I'm going to go out tomorrow (fingers crossed for no rain) and go slowly. Have a good Sunday!


Yes, I set it for 30 minutes and off I go🤩

This is my second completion of the programme as I had a knee injury shortly after I completed the first time .

I used to have a fitbit, but it went on the blink so I did the repeat just using the couch to 5k app.

I had no idea how far I was getting until I used the Samsung health app on week 9 run 2.

30 minutes are enough for me for now, and is is good to see that distance creeping up.

Keep at it, and enjoy yourself tomorrow 🤗


What Arthur said... when you go for more distance, run slow... when you go for speed, run short. It will come, if you do it right. Distance should come first.

Maybe the podcasts don’t suit you, try something different.

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